Sunday, October 5, 2014

Evolution of the Solution: Watching Learning Happen through Experiments

As we begin to talk about individual teaching techniques in our classes this week, one of my favorites is on the list.  Experiments!  What I feel is the epitome of learning!  Posing a question and letting students find the answer on their own, with a little direction.  Such a fun, engaging, and exciting way to teach a lesson in your classroom.

So why are experiments a valuable tool for teaching? Because they challenge our student on so many levels!

  • When conducting experiments, students use all of the modalities of learning.  The visual modality by having a visual representation of problem; the auditory by communicating their thoughts and ideas of possible solutions with group members; and the kinesthetic modality by being able to manipulate tangible materials to work through the problem.
  • Students are able to reach the highest levels of thinking according to Bloom's Taxonomy with lessons that include experiments.  Students are working at the Evaluation and Synthesis levels by hypothesizing, assessing, and concluding throughout the experiment.
  • Students who engage in experiments and stay involved in the learning process learn more and learn better.
  • Experiments help students master systematic learning through agricultural content.  Students must work through a problem from beginning to end, keeping records throughout the experiment and analyzing data for a conclusion; a skill that is transferable to real-work situations.
It's obvious that experiments can be a great way to teach a lesson in the classroom.  But for experiments to be powerful and impactful, they must have proper planning behind them so that way the experiment doesn't simply become just a cool demonstration.
  • Teachers should outline the problem before the experiment begins so that students have a solid idea of what we are researching that day.
  • The procedure should be clearly outlined for students before the experiment takes place so that way it is clear what is expected of the students.
  • It is important to talk about how to keep accurate records on the data that is being observed.
  • Having students report their findings is a great way to compile the data as a group and draw conclusions.
  • A way to ensure that the importance and relevance of the experiment is utilize results in other lessons throughout the units.
There are all kinds of ways for Agriculture Educators to implement experiments into their classrooms.  It really an incredible thing to witness such valuable learning occurring with your students as they discover the solutions to any problem at hand.

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